Pedestrian Accidents by the Numbers (2008–2017)
Pedestrian Deaths in U.S.
Pedestrian Deaths in Florida
Pedestrian Deaths in S. Florida
Most Dangerous State in the Country
We all remember being told as children to “look both ways before crossing the street.” We should all take this lesson to heart because America’s roads are quite dangerous for pedestrians. From 2008–2017, over 49,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by drivers across the country, and the projected 6,590 deaths for 2019 would be the highest number since 1988!
Unfortunately for Florida residents, our roads are the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians. In 2019 and 2020, Florida topped the rankings as the number 1 most dangerous state, and Florida cities make up just under half of the top-20 most dangerous metro areas, with our own Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area coming in at number 14.
These statistics only include pedestrian deaths; there are surely countless more accidents that resulted in catastrophic and life-altering injuries.
Why Are Florida Roads So Hazardous?
Assigning blame for these horrid statistics isn’t simple. On the one hand, we can look at city planning and the roads themselves. We have learned that city engineers in Florida prioritized vehicle speed over pedestrian friendliness. These wide intersections aren’t good for Florida’s large elderly population, who may have mobility issues. Florida also has a high number of SUVs and trucks, which tend to cause greater injuries than smaller cars in a collision with a pedestrian.
On the other hand, densely populated Florida metros like the Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade country area lack the public transit capabilities of other large cities like New York or Chicago. Without a viable alternative, Floridians will continue to increase both the density of pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic.
When and Where Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Since the big underlying causes of pedestrian accidents are quite difficult to change, the best way to avoid being injured in a pedestrian accident is to learn where and when they tend to occur. Here are 5 tips for noticing high-risk situations according to the GHSA’s “2019 Spotlight on Highway Safety.”
Not at Intersections
People might assume that the majority of pedestrians are struck by vehicles in crosswalks. However, the data do not bear this out. In 2018, only 25% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in or near an intersection. If you’re only being careful at crosswalks, you are only being safe 25% of the time.
Local Roads and Highways
The GHSA’s report found that only 22% of the total pedestrian fatalities occurred on residential and downtown streets. A much higher percentage (59%) happened on so-called “non-freeway arterials,” which are the main roads that carry a city’s local and regional traffic. The lower number for in-town driving could be attributed to the lower speed limits on residential and downtown roads.
Unsurprisingly, the GHSA concluded that lighting conditions have a marked effect on pedestrian accidents. In fact, 76% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. If dawn and dusk hours are added to the mix, when sunlight is waxing and waning, we have another 4% or 80% of the total fatalities. Anyone walking or jogging at night should take extra precautions.
Elderly More at Risk
Unfortunately, people over 50 years old are overrepresented in pedestrian accident deaths. This is a particularly troublesome finding for Florida, whose elderly population is sizeable and growing. This age group, especially those in the 75+ range, is more likely to experience challenges seeing, hearing, or moving, further exacerbating the problem.
Finally, pedestrian deaths negatively correlate with an area’s average household income. In other words, the lower the median household income of an area, the more dangerous its streets are likely to be for pedestrians and vice versa. Given that low-income communities are less likely than higher-income communities to have well-maintained sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and streets designed for pedestrian safety, such a finding is not surprising.
Florida Pedestrian and Right-of-Way Laws
Like most other things, there are state statutes to protect pedestrians. Let’s take a look at the actual laws that govern pedestrians in Florida. Section 316.130, Florida Statutes, details the rules pedestrians must follow when walking, jogging, or riding a bike in Boca Raton. Here are some of the most critical pedestrian traffic regulations:
- Where sidewalks are provided, pedestrians must not walk on the portion of a road paved for vehicle traffic,
- Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians must only walk on the left shoulder of the road (i.e. against the flow of traffic),
- Pedestrians must not stand in the road to solicit a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle,
- Pedestrians must not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle whose driver cannot yield,
- At intersections and crosswalks, drivers must stop and must remain stopped to let a pedestrian who is at least halfway across the road pass,
- When there are no traffic control signals, drivers must yield right-of-way or stop to allow a pedestrian who is at least halfway across the road to pass,
- Whenever a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, no driver can pass the stopped vehicle,
- Between adjacent intersections with traffic control signals, pedestrians must not cross at any place except the marked crosswalk.
- Every pedestrian crossing a road outside a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway,
- Pedestrians must cross the road at 90-degree angles to the opposite curb.
- Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.
In short, Florida law says that pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street if they are in a crosswalk. However, pedestrians give up the right of way if they cross the street outside of a designated crosswalk.
These various pedestrian laws are critical when it comes to assigning comparative liability in your pedestrian accident case. If the driver’s defense attorney can show that you were violating one or more of these laws, then you can be held partly liable for the accident that occurs as a result.
Can A Pedestrian Be “At Fault”?
That being said, even if a pedestrian can be shown to have violated one or more of the regulations in Section 316.130, F.S., the comparative fault assignment is likely to fall in the pedestrian’s favor. The driver is almost always going to bear some responsibility for the accident because of section 316.310(15), F.S., which reads:
Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.
This in no way is a free pass for pedestrians to flout the traffic rules or intentionally seek injuries. It does, however, mean that the driver is not allowed to hit a pedestrian even if the pedestrian is technically breaking the law, e.g. by jaywalking, and that the driver will still bear some comparative fault in a pedestrian accident.
Most Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
The type of injury a pedestrian will sustain from being struck by a vehicle will depend largely on the location of the accident and the type of vehicle.
On the one hand, typical passenger cars are smaller and lower to the ground, which means they will strike a person’s center and tend to cause hip, pelvis, and leg fractures. An SUV or truck, on the other hand, is much heavier and has more ground clearance. Pedestrians hit by SUVs and trucks could suffer additional damage to arms, legs, and the back.
Moreover, because a pedestrian is not typically wearing protective gear while out for a stroll, the initial blow from the 4,000-pound vehicle will propel them into forward into another objects or oncoming traffic, which could cause further injury, such as brain injury and concussion.
Neck and Back Injuries
The harsh movement of the body as it bounces off a vehicle and then the concrete or other nearby objects can easily misalign the spine, damage vertebrae, or tear ligaments. Minor whiplash can simply cause neck pain and stiffness, but more severe cases can lead to longer-term effects such as blurred vision, headaches, memory problems, and depression.
Head and Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions are some of the most serious and overlooked pedestrian accident injuries. The short-term effects of TBIs include nausea and vomiting, numbness, or blurred vision. But TBI can cause long-term damage such as chronic headaches, depression, behavioral changes, and seizures. TBI symptoms could also take days to manifest. So, anyone who’s had head trauma should seek medical attention immediately to assess the damage. Medical treatment for brain injuries is complicated and costly, it is critical to have secure records to detail the impact of the injury on your life and wellbeing.
Bone Fractures and Tissue Damage
Even at low speeds, getting hit by a 3,000-pound vehicle can fracture bones and tear muscles and ligaments. Simple bone fractures can take months to heal and result in lost wages. Multiple or complex fractures and muscle tears may require surgery and extensive physical therapy. Your chances of suffering serious bone fractures or ligament damage increase significantly in high-speed crashes.
Psychological and Emotional Injuries
Unless you have suffered a serious accident before, you may not fully appreciate the range of psychological and emotional effects such an experience can have on a person, especially children and young adults. These psychological harms won’t be immediately obvious like cuts or fractures; they may take days or weeks to manifest. And you can be sure the insurance company or at-fault driver will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying for such damages.
Recoverable Damages from Florida Pedestrian Accidents
As with any other accident victim, if you’ve been struck by a vehicle while walking, jogging, or biking, you have the legal right to seek compensation for the damages caused by the accident. Fortunately, pedestrian accident victims usually bear a relatively minor degree of the fault, which means the damages recovered are higher. Pedestrian accident victims can recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic or Special Damages
Economic damages are your compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries you sustained in the accident. They may include:
Depending on the type of accident and the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatments could be massive. Emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs) can all be necessary to help you recover from a serious accident. As long as you have seen a doctor within the required 14-day window, the medical expenses you incur (and are likely to incur in the future) as a result of an accident are recoverable damages—including mileage to and from appointments!
There are 80.4 million hourly workers in the U.S. Simply being in a serious accident and receiving medical treatment can result in fewer working hours and lost wages. Certain injuries can further prevent these employees from returning to work while they are recovering. In this case, future lost wages may also be recoverable damages.
Property damages are likely to be much lower in pedestrian accidents since you aren’t in a vehicle. But damages done to other personal items such as laptops, cameras, or cell phones are also recoverable in a lawsuit.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
If someone you love has died from the injuries sustained after being struck by a car or truck, the funeral expenses may also be covered. However, after a person dies, their spouse, family, or personal representative must bring a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf, which is a somewhat different undertaking than a personal injury lawsuit.
Non-Economic or General Damages
Non-economic damages are a fuzzy category that are hard to quantify. They often include future harms or injuries that lack specific dollar values. You and your lawyer will assign values to these items by their impact on your quality of life.
Loss of Capacity of Earn
In the worst case scenario, very serious injuries may result in a long-term absence from work or even a permanent inability to work or to return to a current job. This is known as a loss of “capacity to earn,” and accident victims can be compensated for this loss of future earnings.
Loss of Consortium
Consortium is Latin for “partnership” or “close connection.” These damages are recoverable when an injured party can no longer provide the same love, affection, companionship, parenting, care, or sexual relationship due to their injuries. Spouses and close family members of accident victims can be compensated for the loss of consortium.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are usually the most highly compensated damages for injured pedestrians. But Florida law allows accident victims to recover damages for “pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience” only if a person is permanently injured and the pain and suffering is a direct result of the injuries sustained in the accident.
Florida’s no-fault statute still comes into play in pedestrian accidents.
As you may know, Florida requires every driver to carry an auto insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). Florida is also a no-fault state, and when a car accident happens, both sides regardless of fault seek help from their own policies first.
This means that if you are struck by a car as a pedestrian and you have a separate car insurance policy, you are still required to go to your car insurance policy first. Victims that do not own cars and do not have car insurance policies can still be covered under the at-fault driver’s policy.
Furthermore, to be eligible for pain and suffering damages you will have to meet the permanent injury threshold.
Speaking to a pedestrian accident lawyer can help you determine what insurance covers your injuries and can help you make the right claims, for the right amounts, at the right time to protect your rights to compensation.
Why You Should Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you are here, chances are that you or someone you know has been hit by a car, truck, or SUV while they were walking down the street. We are truly sorry that you are going through this, and we sincerely hope that you recover from your injuries and that you can return to your normal life as soon as possible.
We also want to help you make smart decisions about your case so you can choose the right pedestrian accident lawyer and get on the path to full recovery—both physically and financially. The effects of a pedestrian accident can be devastating, and without a dedicated personal injury lawyer on their side, victims often don’t recover the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. When thinking about hiring a lawyer for your pedestrian accident, keep a few points in mind.
Insurance companies see it as their job to avoid paying you
The insurance company’s bag of tricks is ineffective on a legal expert
Your peace of mind is critical for recovery
If you have suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident, you need to seek out an experienced Florida accident and injury attorney who will guide you through the claims process. The insurance company will have attorneys and insurance adjusters on their side to protect their interests—so should you.
The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the confidential form below and a team member will contact you soon.
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